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Potato, Onion Shipper Going Out up for Sale

The Hollandale Marketing Association (HMA), growers and shippers of potatoes and onions, announced this afternoon that its operations will cease when it is finished shipping this year’s crop. Shareholders voted Dec. 2 to put the business up for sale.

“Changing markets and erratic weather patterns forced us to make this difficult decision,” said Dean Reed, president of the Hollandale, Minn., association.

The area was hit by major flooding from a 12-inch rain on Sept. 14, ending the harvest with 90 percent of the potato crop in the field and 70 percent of the onions ruined by standing water.

“The loss of HMA will have a big economic impact on the town,” Ted Radke, mayor of Hollandale, said.

Hollandale has 290 residents. The mayor was hopeful that someone else would come in, operate from the site, and employ the 25 people that will be out of work. There has been some interest locally in trying to re-open the plant next fall.

The Association is a farmer-owned cooperative formed in 1926 following the reclamation of swampland in Freeborn County, Minn., to market vegetables grown by its members. It currently operates from a 21-acre site in south-central Minnesota and has storage for 400,000 cwt. of potatoes, an integrated wash plant, grading and packing line. In recent years, potato and onion acreage has been reduced as the number of growers declined and those remaining sought other crops to offset the difficult potato market.

The Payne Investment Company purchased 15,000 acres of swamp in 1919 after finding some of the most nutrient rich soil ever seen anywhere. Ditches were dug, tile was laid, roads were built, a village was platted and two railroads extended their lines to serve the community.

Payne marketed the land to Dutch immigrants who were familiar with lowland farming; hence he chose the name Hollandale. When the marketing association was formed in 1926 there were 70 member-growers working farms of 20 to 40 acres. Over the years farms were consolidated but the descendents of the settlers continued to grow potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, and sweet corn. This year five growers raised potatoes and only three raised onions.

Originally posted Thursday, Dec. 2, 2004

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